And seek you great things for yourself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil on all flesh, said the LORD…
I. WHEN WE MAY BE SAID TO SEEK GREAT THINGS FOR OURSELVES.
1. When we seek a larger portion of worldly good than is necessary. But still the question returns, How much is necessary? If men were to answer this question, they would soon prove that few or none are guilty of violating the command in our text; for they all pretend that they seek no more than is necessary. But by this term they usually mean all that would be necessary to gratify their sinful inclinations and desires. Now man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him for ever; or, in other words, to obey God's will and receive His everlasting favour. More than this no man needs; more than this no man ought to seek.
2. When we seek them for ourselves only, or seek them merely with a view to self-gratification or self-aggrandisement.
II. SOME OF THE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD NOT SEEK GREAT THINGS FOR OURSELVES.
1. Because it is the sure way to multiply our disappointments and sorrows. In the lottery of life there are few prizes, and many blanks. He, then, who seeks great things for himself, engages in a pursuit in which it is exceedingly probable he will be disappointed; and the more ardent are his desires, the more eager his pursuit, the more keen will be the sufferings which his disappointment will occasion. But this is not all. The man whose pursuit is crowned with success, will be no less disappointed than his unsuccessful neighbour. After he has obtained great things, he will find himself as far from happiness, find his desires as unsatisfied, his mind as discontented as before. His desires will increase with his success. Nay, they will increase much faster than his success.
2. Another reason may be drawn from the nature and situation of the world in which we live. Might we not as easily employ our time and exertions in building upon a quicksand, or upon ice which the summer's sun will melt away!
3. Another reason may be found in our own character and situation. We are ourselves sinful, dying, and accountable creatures. We have, therefore, a great work to do, no less a work than securing the favour of God, and obtaining the salvation of our immortal souls, a work which demands our time, our attention, our utmost exertions. And can we, in such a situation, find leisure or inclination to seek great things for ourselves here? to seek them while death is at the door; while the Judge is at hand; while eternity draws near; while our souls, unprepared, are in momentary danger of sinking beyond the reach of hope or mercy?
4. Another reason is, that seeking them is incompatible with the duties which we are required to perform; and of course incompatible with our best interests. Man has but one soul, but one heart, but a certain limited portion of time, strength, and energy. He cannot, then, give his heart to God and to the world at the same time.
(E. Payson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.